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“The breach of the United States Capitol was not the result of poor planning or failure to contain a demonstration



Law enforcement officials told lawmakers Tuesday they were prepared for the possibility of limited violence on January 6 at the US Capitol, but the intelligence available ahead of time did not warn of a violent coordinated attack like the insurrection that overwhelmed officers and led to multiple casualties.

“The breach of the United States Capitol was not the result of poor planning or failure to contain a demonstration gone wrong,” former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund told two Senate committees at the first open hearing on the Capitol riot.
All four of the requested witnesses are slated to testify during today’s Senate hearing on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, according to two sources familiar with the plans.–106190-1.html–161357442/–161357925/–161357442/–161357925/

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules committees invited the following witnesses to testify based on their critical roles in security planning for the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6:

Metropolitan Police Acting Chief Robert Contee
Former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving
Former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger
Former United States Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund
As CNN previously reported, a committee aide described Tuesday’s hearing as a first opportunity to get answers to key questions surrounding the events of Jan. 6, including why the response from law enforcement was delayed and why the rioters were allowed to breach the building.

3 hr 15 min ago
At least 250 people have been charged in connection to the Capitol riot
From CNN’s Paul Murphy, Marshall Cohen and Hannah Rabinowitz

Federal prosecutors have charged at least 250 people in connection with the Capitol riot, according to a CNN analysis of court records and Department of Justice announcements.

These defendants come from 40 states and the District of Columbia, according to a CNN analysis.

Not surprisingly, there are more defendants hailing from the largest states in the country, like Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and California. But when analyzed on a per capita basis, the states with the most defendants as a share of the population are Montana, Biden’s home state of Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

There are 10 states that don’t have any defendants – primarily smaller states scattered across the country.

Ryan Ashlock of Westwood, Kansas, was the latest to be charged. He is facing charges of conspiracy, obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, obstruction of Congress and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building.

The conspiracy charge is in connection with a group of five other individuals, said to be associated with the Proud Boys, that investigators previously charged with conspiracy in connection to the Capitol riot.

“ASHLOCK moved closely with the other subjects in proximity, but also appeared to gesture and communicate to one another before entering the Capitol in an apparent effort to coordinate their efforts, before ASHLOCK ultimately separated from the other subjects,” investigators wrote in an affidavit.

Like the others charged by prosecutors in the conspiracy, investigators say that Ashlock wore orange tape on his clothing, in addition to, “tactical style gear, including a vest, goggles, knee pads, and gloves.”

They also identified him as an individual seen in video pushing against a police barricade outside the Capitol and being pepper sprayed by police.

There’s no information, according to the affidavit, that Ashlock made it into the Capitol building.

The FBI investigator that authored the affidavit also explicitly stated it’s still under investigation, saying that there may be others that could be charged in this specific conspiracy.
This is the first time Americans are hearing in full why intelligence and operations failed dramatically on January 6 from the very people whose choices contributed to the crisis — information that will likely help shape the search for new leaders and possibly a new security management structure on Capitol Hill.
Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee described a phone call shortly after the Capitol was breached by pro-Trump rioters, and how Pentagon officials were apparently unable or unwilling to quickly send in National Guard troops.
“I was surprised at the reluctance to immediately send the National Guard to the Capitol grounds,” he said.
Former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving testified that intelligence assessments before the January 6 attack incorrectly concluded that there was only a “remote” to “improbable” chance of a civil disturbance that day, according to prepared testimony.
Irving also disputed reports he was concerned by the “optics” of National Guard members appearing on Capitol Hill, and thus had declined to request reinforcements on January 4, two days beforehand.
“We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no — the intelligence did not warrant that,” he wrote in his prepared statement. “The intelligence did warrant the plan that had been prepared by Chief Sund.”
6 Capitol Police officers suspended, 29 others being investigated for alleged roles in riot
6 Capitol Police officers suspended, 29 others being investigated for alleged roles in riot
“Based on the intelligence, we all believed that the plan met the threat, and that we were prepared,” Irving added. “We now know that we had the wrong plan.”
In a previous letter, Sund said he asked Irving and former Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger to request the National Guard before the event.
Irving said he “was concerned about the ‘optics’ and didn’t feel the intelligence supported it,” Sund wrote in his letter. The sergeant for the Senate, Stenger, suggested asking the Guard to be ready in case Sund needed them.
Captain says she’s still recovering from chemical burns
Captain Carneysha Mendoza of the US Capitol Police provided riveting testimony Tuesday morning about her firsthand experience responding to the insurrection.
“I proceeded to the Rotunda where I noticed a heavy smoke-like residue and smelled what I believed to be military grade CS gas — a familiar smell,” Mendoza said, mentioning that she served in the Army. “It was mixed with fire extinguisher spray deployed by the rioters. The rioters continued to deploy CS inside the Rotunda.”
CS is a reference to tear gas, which is often used by police as a riot control agent. Footage from the Capitol attack shows officers and rioters using chemical sprays against each other during the hours-long melee.
“Officers received a lot of gas exposure, which is a lot worse inside the building versus outside, because there’s nowhere for it to go,” Mendoza said. “I received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day.”
She also described the terrifying moments while she and other officers brawled with hundreds of rioters.
“At some point, my right arm got wedged between the rioters and railing along the wall,” she testified. “A (DC police) sergeant pulled my arm free and had he not, I’m certain it would have been broken.”
Search for new Capitol Police chief
On Thursday, acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman is scheduled to testify in an open hearing in front of the House Appropriations Committee. That will also mark the first time Pittman takes questions publicly. She previously appeared in a closed-door hearing in which she apologized to lawmakers.
FBI and intel agencies hand over first documents to lawmakers ahead of Capitol attack hearings
FBI and intel agencies hand over first documents to lawmakers ahead of Capitol attack hearings
Her new testimony comes as officials are starting the search for a new USCP chief.
A congressional source told CNN that Congress is moving forward with hiring an outside entity to begin the search.
Several other committees working together have already received briefings and documents from intelligence agencies as part of the numerous probes.
The House Intelligence, Homeland Security, Oversight and Judiciary committees’ joint review prompted an initial production of documents last week from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center, a congressional source told CNN. Additionally, they have received several briefings from the three agencies.
The source said so far the documents have mostly been finished intelligence products that the committee could already access.
This story has been updated with testimony from Tuesday’s hearing.

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ERAMN Plans Virtual Press Conference On International Women’s Day



In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, ERA Minnesota ( will roll-out its legislative agenda and plan action for the final push to make the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution and to add an ERA into the Minnesota Constitution, through a VIRTUAL PRESS CONFERENCE on Monday, March 8, 2021.

“Minnesota is way behind on adding an ERA into our state constitution: 26 states in the Union already have state ERA’s, but not us,” said Heather Allison, President of ERA Minnesota. “Valuing gender equality is a cornerstone to a thriving economy. You don’t drive a car on two wheels; why hamstring our economy by allowing major roadblocks of pay inequity, pregnancy discrimination and sexual violence to negatively impact half our state population?”

“The Equal Rights Amendment has now met all the constitutional requirements to become the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution,” said Betty Folliard, Founder of ERAMN. “We demand action on equality in America and equality is spelled: ERA”.

There will be a brief presentation, then a Q & A session for the press/media.

WHAT: ERA Minnesota Virtual Press Conference announcing the roll-out of state and National EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENTlegislation.WHEN: International Women’s Day, Monday March 8th

TIME: 9:30-10 AMWHERE: Virtual Press Conference via Zoom can be accessed here:

Meeting ID: 895 6559 8573
Passcode: 921197
Or dial by your location
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

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Fox Anchor Suspended Over Tweet About Vaccines For Obese People



WASHINGTON, DC — Blake McCoy, a news anchor with a Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C., was suspended from his job over a tweet that criticized COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.

“I’m annoyed obese people of all ages get priority access before all essential workers,” McCoy, who works for WTTG, a local Fox affiliate, tweeted Tuesday. “When most stayed home, we went into work everyday last March, April, May and everyday since putting ourselves & loved ones at risk. Vaccinate all essential workers. Then obese.”

A Fox 5 spokesperson confirmed that McCoy had been suspended for the tweet. “Blake McCoy has been suspended from WTTG-Fox 5 pending further review,” a spokesperson told People.

McCoy issued an apology later on Tuesday, saying he deleted the tweet because it was “insensitive and offensive.”

“I truly regret my words and want to apologize,” McCoy tweeted.

On Thursday, D.C. residents ages 18 and up with specific medical conditions became eligible to reserve a vaccine appointment. Among the qualifying conditions is obesity.

The WTTG website says McCoy has served as co-anchor on Fox 5 News’ weekday news shows at 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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Most IL Dems Mum As Biden Lets Chicago U.S. Attorney Keep Digging



CHICAGO — A hush fell over much of the Illinois Democratic Party after word leaked Tuesday that President Joe Biden had succumbed under mounting pressure calling for him to let Chicago’s corruption-busting U.S. Attorney John Lausch keep his job a while longer.


We didn’t hear a peep from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whom Lausch’s office is investigating for allegedly removing toilets from one of his mansions as part of a “scheme to defraud” Cook County.

It could be Pritzker was just too busy.

After all, the billionaire had his hands full trying to muscle in his pick for Illinois’ new Democratic Party boss from the moment House Speaker Michael Madigan — whom Lausch also is investigating — resigned the post Monday.

Over the last two months, Madigan was forced out as House speaker, resigned his seat in the state Legislature, appointed a controversial replacement only to ask him to resign and, of course, stepped down as the state Democratic Party leader. All of that came after Lausch implicated him (without filing charges) in ComEd’s participation in a bribery scheme aimed at winning Madigan’s legislative favor.

Madigan and his political associates, like Pritzker, didn’t say a word about Biden’s decision to keep Lausch around for six months or however long it takes to install his replacement.

There was no public pontificating from Democrats loyal to Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, whom Lausch indicted on accusations of trying to shake down a Burger King owner for a $10,000 contribution to Cook County Democratic Party boss Toni Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle — who might’ve become Chicago’s mayor if not for her name getting attached to Lausch’s mid-campaign indictment of Burke — also didn’t publicly comment on the U.S. attorney’s continued employment.

Neither did Crestwood Mayor Lou Presta and former Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski. They’re among a long list of Democratic public officials and lobbyists Lausch’s office has indicted as part of an ongoing corruption investigation that has connected the dots on dirty public deeds from Springfield to the suburbs, Cook County government to Chicago’s City Council and public school system — and beyond.

Every person, government and corporation touched by Lausch’s massive political corruption probe has one thing in common: deep ties to the corrupt Democratic machine that still runs Illinois politics.

MORE ON PATCH: Biden Looks Like Trump By Firing Corruption-Busting U.S. Attorney

The only Dems with something to say on the matter have been U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, who were first to beg Biden to reverse course on Lausch, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who said Tuesday removing the U.S. attorney would make “no sense.”

It’s worth noting that Durbin, Duckworth and Lightfoot neither are targets of Lausch’s investigations nor have a vote in who takes over the state Democratic Party. They also aren’t billionaires willing to part with personal wealth to leverage influence like our “toilet gate” governor, for instance.

And it’s thanks in part to their public call for Biden to keep Lausch around that Chicago’s U.S. attorney gets an extra six months, and maybe longer, to check the wiretaps for what the silent are saying when they think no one is listening.

Mark Konkol, recipient of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting, wrote and produced the Peabody Award-winning series, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story.” He was a producer, writer and narrator for the “Chicagoland” docu-series on CNN, and a consulting producer on the Showtime documentary, “16 Shots.”

More from Mark Konkol:

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